Picks: Phelps a Phavorite, But Not a Runaway, in 100 Fly

  80 Braden Keith | July 15th, 2012 | Featured, London 2012 Olympics, News, Previews & Recaps

Here’s the next in our series of Olympic race-by-race previews. Click here to see all of the previews.

Men’s 100 Fly Preview

The 100 fly at this year’s Olympics all of a sudden has become a much better race than the runaway that it looked like it might be a year ago. Michael Phelps is still clearly the favorite, but this is going to be another barn-burner of a finish like the infamous race between him and Milorad Cavic in 2008.

After a few down seasons in 2010 and 2011, late last year everything seemed to spark again for Cavic, and at the European Championships he was spectacular with a 51.45 that currently sits him 3rd in the world. There may be some small concern about going so fast so late in the year, but what we saw from his American Club Wolverine teammates, they still swam pretty well, as a whole, at US Trials, after having a fast in-season meet as well.

But this year, if anybody’s going to challenge Phelps, I think it will be one of two other men. The first is Tyler McGill. As compared to his countrymate, this will be McGill’s first final of the meet, while it will be Phelps’ 6th. Many elite swimmers have reported that one of the biggest changes from the 2008 suit era (though at that point, they weren’t totally out of control yet) is the fatigue factor by the end of a long meet. In full body suits, it didn’t set in nearly as much as it does back in jammers. McGill’s confidence is riding high after he came within two-tenths of picking off MP in Omaha.

We know Phelps wasn’t tapered at Trials, but we have to assume that McGill wasn’t on a full taper either. He was better than his 51.3 at last year’s Worlds, and the assumption is a swimmer at his age will make some improvements from year-to-year, especially as he moves further-and-further into long course specific training.

The other is a man who’s going to jump up and surprise a lot of fans who have been focusing on just US swimming: Poland’s Konrad Czerniak, the silver-medalist from Shanghai. He’s the youngest contender in this race, having just turned 22 on Thursday. He hasn’t done anything significant this year, but he already had his spot on the Olympic Team locked up so that could work to his advantage big-time. He was still good enough for a 52.0 in March, though, so it’s not as though he hasn’t felt that speed since Worlds, either.

Kenya’s Jason Dunford, now having left Stanford and training in Europe, is in a similar position. He hasn’t been better than a 52.4 in 2012, but was a full second faster than that time at Worlds last year and was automatically qualified for the Olympics coming out of Shanghai.

A pair of Europeans, Germany’s Steffen Deibler and Evgeny Korotyshkin, are having very good years. I like Korotyshkin out of the pair as more likely to get to a 51-low to medal. Deibler, however, didn’t look maxed out in any of his races at German Trials other than maybe this 100 fly, so he could still have some big taper left. Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh wisely scratched this race in 2012 (he swam it at Worlds in 2011) to focus on his better medal chances in the 200 fly and the IM’s.

South Africa’s Chad Le Clos is another swimmer to watch. He’s been crazy-fast in the last year, and even though he finished near the bottom-half of the semi-finals last year, he’s got a 51 in him this year. Like Phelps, though, he’ll come into this race after a brutal meet schedule that will include the 200 IM, 400 IM, and the 200 fly. It will be a challenge for him to sneak through the semi-final, just after getting out of the 200 IM final (that is, if he makes the 200 IM final).

Another 200 butterflier that will be a new factor this year in the 100 is Japan’s Takeshi Matsuda. He’s the world’s number-two in the longer distance, and though he’s not quite as good in the 100, he should semi-final at least.

There’s lots of opportunities in this race, with 4 semi-finalists from last year’s meet not entered in the Olympics. Among those ready to seize the chance is Australia’s Christopher Wright. In 2011, he doesn’t have a single record in the Swimming Australia database for this event, instead focusing on his 200 fly last season. But this year, he put up an outstanding 51.6 at Aussie Trials. If you’re looking for an upset pick to put on the medals stand, he’s it.

As far as a darkhorse to make the final, it’s Belgiums Francois Heersbrandt. He’s already had a fantastic swim earlier this year, but it was in January. He seemed to put only a small rest into his 100 fly at the European Championships, which says he’s still got a strong taper. He could get into the 51-range that it’s going to take to final at this year’s Olympics. Last year, he was 17th in the prelims and didn’t even get out of the first round.

Full top 8 picks, with best 2012 times:

1. Michael Phelps (USA) – 51.14
2. Konrad Czerniak (Poland) – 52.07
3. Tyler McGill (USA) – 51.32
4. Milorad Cavic (Serbia) – 51.45
5.  Christopher Wright (Australia) – 51.67
6. Jason Dunford (Kenya) – 52.43
7. Steffen Deibler (Germany) – 52.00
8. Takuro Fujii (Japan) – 51.91
Darkhorse: Francois Heersbrandt (Belgium) – 52.29

Women’s 100 Fly

This women’s 100 fly is a heavy-weight battle that will be one of the races of the meet, alongside the women’s middle-distance freestyles.

The two women in this field who have been swimming unbelievably well this year are American Dana Vollmer and Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom. Vollmer has 6 of the world’s 7 fastest times in 2012, and Sjostrom has the other.

Sjostrom is also the World Record holder in the event, even though she missed the podium last year in Shanghai. Sjostrom has been lights-out this year as a whole; but surprisingly as she’s become one of the world’s best freestylers, her butterfly hasn’t really matched the pace. Make no mistake – she’s still one of the world’s top 3 100 butterfliers without a doubt. Vollmer’s biggest advantage might be that her scheduled is pared way down this year – this 100 fly is her only Olympic event, along with only two, and maybe three, relay spots.

As good as Vollmer has been in the 100 fly this year, that ugly timing of the American Olympic Trials could still rear its head (though she thinks she’s going to get to a 55 this year – which nobody else will be able to do).

China’s Lu Ying typically has pretty big tapers, unlike many of her Chinese counterparts, from Chinese Nationals. If she cuts off as much time this year as she did last, then a 56.5 is in her reach too, which makes her a gold medal contender as well.

Australia’s Alicia Coutts is the oft-forgotten swimmer in this battle. But she has one special trick in her bag, that is not always easy in this women’s 100 fly – she hits her finals swims. She did it at Worlds, she did it at Australian Trials; she does it in the big meets. She can always count on dropping half-a-second or better in the finals of this event, so if she’s close she’ll make the competition very nervous.

The British women, spurred on by stiff domestic competition, were lights-out at British Trials. Ellen Gandy and Fran Halsall were 57.2 and 57.5, respectively. Halsall will likely have her focus on the sprint freestyles, so I like Gandy’s medal chances as the better of the pair.

In the revolving China 100 fly door, Jiao Liuyang took the second spot over last year’s 5th-place finisher Liu Zige, meaning that the Chinese must expect that she’ll be better than a 57.5 in this race.

There’s just a glut of names in this race. Yuka Kato from Japan is swimming at a whole new level this year, and went a 57.7 at Japan’s Trials – a full second faster than she was at Worlds last year. The United States’ Claire Donahue didn’t have her breakout until after last year’s World Championship meet, but went a 57.5 at Trials.

Australia’s Jessicah Schipper doesn’t get all of the glam of some of the other top 100 butterfliers (she’s more recognized for her 200), but she did finish 7th at Worlds last year. Even with a deep field at Australia’s Olympic Trials, she took the 2nd spot with the best 100 time she’s swum since 2009. She’s had some health issues this year, though, which may have derailed her chances a bit. Sinapore’s Tao Li, a finalist in 2008, looks like she’s gotten back on her feet a little bit after a few tumultuous years of hopping-around coaches, and is still young enough to be on an upward climb.

In 2011, Dana Vollmer was able to add four-tenths between the semi-finals and the finals and still win gold. She won’t have that luxury this year, and I think that an upset is coming.

1. Sarah Sjostrom (Sweden) – 56.79
2. Dana Vollmer (USA) – 56.42
3. Alicia Coutts (Australia) – 57.59
4. Lu Ying (China) – 57.48
5. Ellen Gandy (UK) – 57.25
6, Jiao Liuyang (China) – 57.80
7. Claire Donahue (USA) – 57.57
8. Fran Halsall (UK) – 57.56
Darkhorse: Martina Granstrom (Sweden) – 58.07

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80 Comments on "Picks: Phelps a Phavorite, But Not a Runaway, in 100 Fly"

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4 years 3 months ago

Watch out for Jayden Hadler as an upset pick for a final. Has had some impressive scm swims since trials @18 yrs old and a few more months under magnussen’s coach I see a similar breakout to the missile last yr with a 51.3 or so a real possibility

4 years 3 months ago

“We know Phelps wasn’t tapered at Trials, but we have to assume that McGill wasn’t on a full taper either. He was better than his 51.3 at last year’s Worlds, and the assumption is a swimmer at his age will make some improvements from year-to-year, especially as he moves further-and-further into long course specific training.”

McGill was 51.26 last year a WC…to Phelps 50.71…

Still think Cavic will be the one to challenge MP not McGill

4 years 3 months ago

I think that, unlike Phelps, McGill probably was on a full taper at Trials, because he did not have the same chances of making the Olympic Team as Phelps did. So he needed to have the meet of his life, whereas Phelps didn’t have to be completely rested.

4 years 3 months ago

The 100 fly is MP’s safest race
He’s not worried about the opposition, he’s just worried about beating 50.40

4 years 3 months ago

200 fly is Phelps’ safest race. It’s his most natural event.

4 years 3 months ago

Why would McGill not be fully tapered? Not saying he won’t improve,but people are throwing that phrase around way to much. Also, not sure why Cavic swimming fast would necessarily be a concern; I mean, there isn’t much to compare it to given his injury. He said after the race that he was partially tapered, but that he wasn’t sure how he’d get under 51 again (the obvious answer would be the back half).

Also, is Japan now going back on their qualifying rules and allowing Fujii and Matsuda to compete?

4 years 3 months ago

michael and others were all fully tapered…the studs just raise the bar when they need to!!

4 years 3 months ago

they’re not fully tapered because you can’t fully taper for a big meet, and then expect to taper again for another big meet. it doesn’t work, none of the big names were fully tapered

4 years 3 months ago

I think that Phelps really needs to be concerned about this race. His three biggest competitors (Czerniak, Cavic, and McGill) all only have the 100 Fly. I think Czerniak has the edge here. He was fast at Polish Nationals in the 50 free (22.0), but opted out of the swim at the Olympics to focus solely on beating Phelps in the fly. He was also pre-qualified because of his swim last year at Worlds, so I highly doubt he was fully tapered at his Nationals. The same can be said about Dunford and Cavic. I think there will be 2-3 guys at 50.? and then the rest will be 51’s

4 years 3 months ago

I still believe that Dana will take 1st and I really want her to get under 56. I appreciate that you believe that Claire Donahue will get in the top 8. That is my hope for her, but if I know Claire, she will not settle for anything less than a medal.

4 years 3 months ago

The thing about Cavic is that if you strip down his best performances, the 50.59 from beijing was probably a 50low in textile, and his 2009 race accountingfor the suit wasnt worth muchunder 51flat. That said hes also said the msin thing thergery has taken from him was explosiveness. Because of thisits hard to see him getting back to challenging Phelps, or even for silver.

4 years 3 months ago

Rafael Munoz to win in 49.10. The man goes a world-record time of 22.43 in the 50m. Multiply by two and you get 44.86, add a little more than 4 seconds due to the tiredness of swimming a second lap, and you have your easy winner right here.

4 years 3 months ago

if the 50 fly time counts for something.. why cielo does not add 100 fly to his program? 😛

4 years 3 months ago

Same night as the 50 final.

4 years 3 months ago

Rafael Munoz hasn’t done much since the shiny suits were banned. He’ll be lucky to make semis.

4 years 3 months ago

Just give Phelps some fuel (negative talking) and he will use it to give us a spectacular race! He feeds off the negative talk… so keep it up! It will be his last individual race of his career!

4 years 3 months ago

Err wasn’t that during the tech suit era… What’s his fastest in textile? 49.10 I don’t think so

4 years 3 months ago

This was suppose to be directed at ECHOS MYRON oops..

4 years 3 months ago

I just can’t wait for next week already!!
I don’t think there’s a more obsessed swim fan out there than me!!

4 years 3 months ago

I scheduled PTO (vacation time) for the entire first week of the Olympics because I know I won’t be productive at all with swimming going on. I’m right there with you, Dov!

4 years 3 months ago

phleps won’t be swimming both freestyle realys!!! will he?

bobo gigi
4 years 3 months ago

Men’s 100 fly. Michael Phelps in 50.64
Women’s 100 fly. Dana Vollmer in 56.30

On the men’s side the 100 fly will be the last race on individual of Michael Phelps. I can’t imagine him and I don’t want to see him with a defeat. But I know it will be tough. That’s why I would have prefered he drops the 400 IM. Without this race at the beginning of the meet I would be sure Michael wins but with this race it will be very close against swimmers who will be fresh and are in London only for that. It will be close but I’m confident. He deserves to finish his giant career with a win on individual.
On the women’s side I think only Dana Vollmer can beat Dana Vollmer. I don’t understand why she has swum so fast at the trials. She didn’t need to do that. She had a big margin so she could qualify not fully tapered. We’ll see her level in London but if she’s at her top she’s unbeatable. The only thing she has to change is like Rebecca Soni to stop the crazy times in the heats and in the semi-finals. It’s useless. Keep your energy for the final Dana! The gold medal is more important than the world record.

4 years 3 months ago

She will have to swim 100% at the end, if she goes like Soni usually does, Sjoestrem will be thankful..

4 years 3 months ago

I agree, especially as Sjoestrom has perfect schedule and 100 fly is her first individual event and Sweden might not even qualify for 4×100 free final.

bobo gigi
4 years 3 months ago

I talked about her crazy races in the heats and in the semi-finals. It’s useless to swim as fast before the final.

Craig H
4 years 3 months ago

Gets you used to swimming fast. You overestimate how much a couple of races takes out of you.

bobo gigi
4 years 3 months ago

I’m not a specialist, just a simple swimming fan and I think it’s much smarter to swim faster and faster from the heats to the final. If you swim a world record in the semi-finals and 1 second slower in the final and you are not olympic champion, yes you will have the world record but you will not have the most important thing and you will cry. She has to keep the big show for the final.

4 years 3 months ago


Christopher Wright swam 52.40 and 1:56.23 in 2010, and 52.98 and 1:57.94 last year.

4 years 3 months ago

What is “infamous” about the 2008 100 fly race?

in·fa·mous   [in-fuh-muhs]
having an extremely bad reputation: an infamous city.
deserving of or causing an evil reputation; shamefully malign; detestable: an infamous deed.

4 years 3 months ago

BK, why on earth would McGill not be tapered for Trials? He only has one event, a little slip-up (plus the usual Trials surprises, this time Lochte) from him, and he’d be watching the Games on a TV. It’s not like a he’s a star in a 200-400 event where the margin of error is greater. You can’t assume year-to-year improvement, the human body is not a machine.

4 years 3 months ago

Hey guys I just thought about this. What if Laure Manaudou does the 4×200 free relay for France and finds some form, can they push the USA and Aussies? She swam a 2.00 in april but has some fast times on the board in the backstroke events…thoughts?

bobo gigi
4 years 3 months ago

France can play the bronze medal with Camille Muffat, Charlotte Bonnet, Laure Manaudou or Ophélie-Cyrielle Etienne and Coralie Balmy but it will be close. No chances for the gold medal but the bronze medal ahead of China is possible.

4 years 3 months ago

Heirsbrand has not been faster than 52.65.

Jean Michel
4 years 3 months ago

Nobody will come very close to Usa 800 free relay on women’s side ! that’s a certainty i claim with humility . One simple reason : they have the best balanced team . Now the race will be interesting anyway to see how AUssies and chinese and French manage to get close to Usa .

4 years 3 months ago

You are really not summing up AUS times right?

Schmitt is the best of the 8 swimmers..

but then we have 2 1:56 flat 1:56 high AUS 1:56 high and 1:57 low AUS and 1:57 mid if needed

US have 1:54 mid 1:56 high 1:57 low and 2 1:57 high

AUS is much more balanced.. if Schmitt does not deliver.. US is in HUGE trouble.. ON paper both teams are pretty equal.

bobo gigi
4 years 3 months ago

Don’t forget Missy will be much faster but I agree the race will be close.


About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

The most common question asked about Braden Keith is "when does he sleep?" That's because Braden has, in two years in the game, become one of the most prolific writers in swimming at a level that has earned him the nickname "the machine" in some circles. He first got his feet …

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